On the Fearfulness of Greed

During a typhoon, the whole town was inundated with water. As everyone was fleeing to safety, one man remembered a precious possession left behind. Overcome by fear that it would be washed away or ruined, he rowed home with all his might. When he came to his house, of which all but the roof was underwater, as he was getting out of the boat he accidentally fell into the flood and was drowned. If only he had waited a bit longer! His greed killed him.

— Buddhist Master

Better the Pauper’s Single Candle Than the Rich Man’s Ten Thousand Candles.

When Shakyamuni Buddha was alive, a beggar woman called Nanda saw people giving lamps as donations to the Buddha and wanted to do the same. However, she couldn’t even buy oil for one lamp because she was extremely poor. After thinking long and hard, she cut her long hair and took it to an oil shop. She pleaded, “Please sell oil to me!” The surprised shop owner asked her, “Why would you do that just for oil?” When Nanda told him that she wanted to make a donation to Shakyamuni Buddha, he was moved by her words and willingly gave her oil for one lamp. The next day, Maudgalyayana, one of Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples, was walking around putting out the lamps in Gion Temple. However, out of all the lamps there, there was one that he could not put out. When Maudgalyayana asked Shakyamuni Buddha about this, he answered, “You cannot extinguish that light. It will continue to burn even if you pour all the waters of the ocean onto it. That is because it was the sincere donation of a beggar woman named Nanda. A pure intention such as hers is vaster and more immense than all the seven seas.”

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #62 | 2062, On the Fearfulness of Greed

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